Nug’s new album Alter Ego is out now.
Alter Ego is post-metal’s closest equivalent of a melting-pot. Nug’s latest genre-merging project holds the crushingly sombre atmosphere from the likes of Amenra, the magnificent melodies reminiscent of ISIS’s work, and the full-blown expansiveness that one would hear in something like Cult Of Luna, all condensed into a single forty-eight-minute record. Enthusiasts of the genre will surely be quick to grasp what the evident sources of inspiration for the band were while assembling this album, yet this does not necessarily carry any detrimental value towards Alter Ego’s integrity. As a matter of fact, the five-piece Ukrainian band managed to create, in a rather pleasant fashion, a collection of ever-morphing sounds. It’s a project that ultimately succeeds in being sometimes melancholic, sometimes hard-hitting, and sometimes beautiful – often times all of the above in one song.
Unquestionably, some of the standout moments in the album reside in the effectiveness of its transitions between genres, being able to seamlessly swap a tranquil atmosphere for an intensely abrasive one. It stands out even more however when those very same intense and tranquil elements start to embrace one another to develop something much greater. The result is brilliant. Two opposing forces that unrestingly challenge and push each other, ultimately asserting an enthralling but carefully balanced design between serenity and turmoil, darkness and resplendence, light and its absence. Tracks like ‘The Birth’ and ‘Beast’ resemble this balance quite well, with the first one carrying an aura of imposing doom that suddenly transforms into bending guitar riffs and hammering drum sections on the latter track.
This prevailing duality of sensations that results from its nuanced tonalities throughout aren’t wholly representative of all Alter Ego has to offer though. Sometimes, it just feels like flooding your senses with an impetuous barrage of all things heavy-related. And it certainly does so, as is the case of ‘Eleven’ which, although starting off slow, progressively evolves into a gruesome track. The same can be said about ‘Radiance’, one of the most diverse and captivating pieces on this record. At last, the closer ‘Night Shine’ encapsulates the feeling of the album perfectly. The gruesome vocals are there, and so are the relentless instrumental arrangements followed up by the beautifully radiant ambience that puts an end to the record.
Even in all its glory, Alter Ego still lacks something. nug’s sound, although thoroughly enjoyable, is not yet transformative and unique enough to stand out among the peers it so often takes inspiration from. As a result, avid fans of the genre may feel like the album is at times affected by some banalities in its sound, resembling platitudes that are commonly found in metal. It would have been great to see the band take some more risks because even though there are innovative and unexpected moments splattered through the record, they end up being few and far between. That being said, nug have certainly proved to be a band to look forward to, if not through their versatility then through their undeniable collective musicianship. All that is left is for the band to develop a sound that is more their own and less everyone else’s.
Order Alter Ego via Bandcamp.